Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Travel

One of the reasons this will be our last year away from home for the holidays is because I absolutely hate travelling during the winter. Everything's crowded and everyone's tired and the chance of delays at the airports is just way too high. The only reason I was willing to do it this year was because we found a flight into Philly with a layover in Newark. I figured if the weather was bad we'd either end up stuck in Seattle or Newark, which is close to where we wanted to be anyway.

Things on Wednesday started out great. We took the bus and the light rail down to the airport and were there in plenty of time to catch our 11 am flight. Travelling with a 4 1/2 year old is soooo much easier than with a 3 1/2 year old. After getting through security, Gareth obediently and patiently sat waiting on a chair while we gathered all our stuff, got shoes on, etc. We never once had to worry about him running off (meaning we never had to use the tail/leash of his monkey backpack). It was awesome - until we got to our gate and they announced that our flight would likely be delayed at least an hour. They started boarding around noon, got the plane going down the runway, and then announced that we'd all be sitting there for about an hour before the people in charge gave us the go-ahead to take off. Things were delayed in Newark. I'm sure the couple behind us with 20 month old twins were thrilled to hear we'd be stuck on the plane an extra hour. We finally took off about 1:30 pm.

Gareth was also remarkably well-behaved on the plane, despite our having few toys to entertain him. He enjoyed making the babies behind us laugh (I think their mom appreciated his entertainment as well because he was keeping her kids from having a meltdown). Thankfully it was a smooth flight, so we weren't stuck in our seats the whole time. Gareth was able to kneel by his seat and play with his cars and I was able to get up and walk around from time to time. Even still, about half way through I was ready go crazy being cooped up in there. It's been a while since we've been on a flight that long and I'm not eager to do it again any time soon (after we get back to Seattle that is).

We figured we'd miss our connecting flight to Philly, since our layover was only supposed to be an hour and we weren't going to get into Newark until 30 or 40 minutes after that flight was supposed to leave. But we figured they'd either re-book us or let us just go (definitely our preferred option, since Newark is closer to my parent's house than Philly). Things got bad once we started descending. I was walking back to my seat as the turbulence started and almost got knocked over a few times. But what was worse was the feeling of extreme nausea that took over as soon as I sat down. Gareth thought the bumpiness was fun (but his ears were bothering him). They told us we'd be on the ground in a few minutes, but it felt like hours to me. A little kid sitting across from us threw up and I grabbed our bag of bagels in case I needed it (I even took the remaining bagel out so I wouldn't puke all over it). I gave up looking out the window, hoping I'd see ground, because every time I did we seemed no closer. Apparently Ryan was feeling sick as well. We did make it on the ground eventually and the pilot came on to tell us that the winds had been 60 mph while we were landing. Blech. Then we got to sit around and wait for quite a while longer in order for another plane to leave the gate we were going to.

We got to our connecting gate (no one had missed their connecting flights since the entire airport was delayed due to the winds) and found that our flight to Philly wasn't scheduled to leave until at least 11 pm (our original schedule had us arriving in Philly at 9:45 - we'd landed in Newark just after 9). We tried to see if the airline would let us just skip the flight to Philly, but if we did that they'd cancel our return flight unless we were willing to pay almost $500 to re-book the return flights. So we settled in for the long haul, even though I wasn't sure I could mentally cope with another flight that night. Ryan found me some food since I was shaking from hunger by this point. Our departure kept getting pushed back - the last time I heard was something like 12:10. The plane we were waiting for was coming from Buffalo, but it never came. Finally, just after 11, they cancelled our flight. I was initially discouraged by this, but Ryan thankfully was smart enough to realize that this was our out. He talked with the people at the desk and they said we were free to go and that our return flight was still scheduled. We even thanked them profusely, though we later realized it's not like they had actually done anything - we should have been thanking the horrible weather! But I'm sure it made them happy that at least some people had been pleased to hear the flight was cancelled. Elated, we called my parents to come pick us up. They were happy to trade a trip to Philly at 1 in the morning for the shorter trip to Newark at 11 pm.

So, yes, everything worked out. But I'm not planning on travelling during the winter again for a while. It is fun to be here with all my family, but I'm definitely looking forward to a travel-free Christmas at home next year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Couch (and some holiday thoughts)

So last weekend our couch was delivered. We'd been a bit worried about if it would fit through our entryway or not, which requires it to come through the door and then only has 4 feet before you hit a wall and have to turn to get into the living room. We obviously chose a good size of couch for our house, since it came in quite easily. We were expecting they might have to take off the legs to get it through the door, but they didn't even have to do that. The whole getting it in the house process took about two minutes. Gareth was overly excited and wanted to start jumping on it right away - something which we've been asking him not to do ever since. He always replies to our reprimands by saying, "But I'm not jumping! I'm playing!" Ah, yes, because if it's playing that involves jumping on the couch that makes it all okay.

Enjoying resting (Gareth rarely lets me actually nap)

And here's a view of Gareth right after the couch was delivered:

The room is starting to actually look like a living space rather than somewhere we stick random stuff we don't have anywhere else to put! I am hoping to find a replacement shade for the floor lamp one of these days (anyone know where I can find one?).  Our next purchase will be a TV to go across from the couch and we're hoping to purchase an area rug for the floor before next holiday season. While we still can't entertain tons of people, it is nice to know we could invite another family over and have a place for them to sit that's not a hard floor.

In the second picture you can see some of our holiday decor, sort of. There isn't much of it anyway as we don't get a tree when we're not going to be home on Christmas. I'm excited for next year when we'll have one. It's rather fun to have a fireplace mantle to put some things on. Next year we'll have to purchase some stocking hanger things, because the push pins currently holding them in place wouldn't win a match against gravity if we actually filled the stockings. And since Ryan wants to occasionally have a fire in the fireplace next year, I'd rather not have our stockings go up in flames.

The packages across the mantle top are from the advent presents my mom sends us every year. Usually I attach them to a red and green rope and hang them like a garland. I didn't have time to do that right away this year and in the end decided that I liked having them lined up across the mantle.

Gareth is, of course, very excited for the holidays. He had a couple of days this year when he asked lots of questions about Santa. I'm wondering, does anyone else feel bad pretending Santa is real to their kids? I'm very torn, because I loved believing in Santa when I was little, and really wasn't particularly upset or disappointed when I realized Santa wasn't real. But I feel horrible lying to Gareth about it, telling him that Santa can fly because he's magic and other such things. I see how easily he accepts my explanations and I'm not sure that's something I want to encourage. I don't sit around telling him other myths are true. Usually I would encourage him to question. Would it diminish his excitement any if we didn't pretend Santa was real? At the same time, though, I don't think it hurt me to believe in Santa as a kid, so for now I continue to pretend the myth is real.